Written by Dr.Leon Tressell, co-authorted by Rosa Tressell exclusively for SouthFront
As the host for the 2018 World Cup the global media pack have lost no time sticking the boot into Russia. Another opportunity for the new Cold War 2.0 propaganda. Meanwhile the conflict still rages on in the Ukraine, take the seven civilians wounded on a passenger bus hit by heavy artillery fire from the Ukrainian government on 7 June in south eastern Holubivske near Donetsk. Newspapers and TV news broadcasts are full of stories about their hopes for the teams representing their respective countries. Yet not a word is said about the civilians killed and wounded by the fighting across the border in Eastern Ukraine.
The outbreak of Cold War 2,0 can be traced back to the overthrow of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanuokovich in February 2014. This American sponsored coup unleashed centrifugal forces that are now tearing the country apart. The so called “Maiden Revolution’’ installed an ultra-nationalist regime into power in Kiev whose Russophobia was so extreme that it sparked uprisings throughout the Russian-speaking regions of Eastern Ukraine. The civil war in Ukraine that has been raging for over 4 years now is based in the self declared independent republics of Donetsk and Lugansk which share a border with Russia.
The fears of the Russian speaking population in Eastern Ukraine were confirmed by the Odessa Massacre on 2 May 2014 which saw 43 Russian speakers burned to death by a mob of Ukrainian speakers led by Neo-Fascists from the Right Sector. This fear of repression also led to the referendum that led to the independence of Crimea which subsequently rejoined the Russian Federation.
Following this horrendous war crime the Russian speakers of the Donbass region (Donetsk and Lugansk) refused to accept the authority of the Kiev junta and held referendums that created the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk otherwise known as Novorossia.
Since the latter event Cold War 2.0 has really taken off with East-West relations at an historic low point. American and its EU allies have imposed round after round of economic sanctions upon Russia’s economy while they have loaned billions to the hopelessly corrupt junta in Kiev. At the same time the U.S. has sent large quantitities of military equipment and military trainers/advisors to Ukraine to help defend itself from “Russian aggression’’.
In recent months Russophobic hysteria in the Western media has reached epic proportions as poison gas attacks and the saturation bombing of civilians in Syria are blamed on the government of Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, the West, particularly the United States seem obsessed with Russian “interference’’ in numerous elections.
Against the backdrop of these developments the Ukrainian government has conducted a bloody ‘’Anti-Terrorist Operation’’ (recently renamed the Joint Forces Operation) against the breakaway regions in the Donbass. Its goal is simple to recapture the breakaway regions and bring them under Kiev’s control again. At the last count over 10,000 people had been killed during the fighting while 1.7 million people have been displaced and made homeless by the fighting.
The OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) has over 600 hundred military observers stationed in Donetsk/Lugansk and along the 400 km contact line between the armies of the opposing sides. They produce a daily bulletin that records the military activity that has taken place during the previous 24 hours.
These reports reveal a marked upsurge in the fighting over the last three months that has destroyed residential areas, schools and threatened the closure of the regions main water treatment plant due to the direct targeting of such areas by Ukrainian heavy artillery.
The terrible impact of this upsurge in the conflict, that has been largely ignored by the Western press and politicians, is shown by interviews with civilians caught up in the cross fire. On 7 June OSCE observers entered the Chyhari area of Pivdenne and described the scene that met them:
“The SMM [Special Monitoring Mission] observed at least 20 civilians in the area, several of whom told the SMM that the security situation had sharply deteriorated since mid-May. The SMM saw that five houses on Zarichna Street and one on Tsilinny Lane had been completely destroyed, while houses on Poltavska and Amurska streets were damaged. The SMM spoke with eight people (men and women, between 20 and 60) who told the SMM the area lacked schools, electricity, running water and basic supplies, while mobile communications were difficult to access’’.
Daily life for civilians in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions is made very difficult by the incessant artillery fire that is poured into the area by Ukraine’s heavy artillery. On the evening of 11-12 June OSCE observers recorded a mere 230 artillery explosions across the Donetsk region along with hundreds of bursts of heavy machine gun and small arms fire. Meanwhile, on both sides of the contact line separating the two sides there has been a growth of minefields and unexploded ordinanance that threatens civilians and restricts their freedom of movement.
The upsurge in fighting is revealed by daily reports from independent journalists reporting from the Donetsk region, such as Patrick Lancaster, and confirmed by OSCE figures that reveal between 28 May and 10 June there were 14,000 ceasefire violations. A five per cent increase on the previous fortnight. Two civilians were killed during this period and 19 injured bringing the number of killed so far this year to 29 and over a hundred wounded.
The Ukrainian army has been moving greater quantities of men and military hardware up to the contact line. The oligarch dominated junta that rules in Kiev has every intention of taking back Donetsk and Lugansk by military force. Daily reports from the OSCE note how large quantities of heavy weapons are absent from their designated storage sites in contravention of the Minsk 2 peace accords.
OSCE drones on 12 June spotted 14 howitzers, 8 tanks (T-64), 3 surface to air missile systems (9K35 Strela-10), 6 multiple rocket launcher systems (BM21 Grad,122mm) and 2 anti-tank guns (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) absent from their storage depots. All of these heavy weapons were found to be close to the contact line between the warring sides.
If further evidence were needed of the huge military build up by the Ukrainian army, in anticipation of a military offensive, the OSCE reported on 14 June:
“In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines in Donetsk region, the SMM noted for the first time that two weapons holding areas were abandoned with eight towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) and 18 anti-tank guns (MT-12) missing, including five towed howitzers (2A36) and six anti-tank guns (MT-12) missing for the first time’’.
It remains to be seen if the Ukrainian government will launch an all out military offensive to recapture the separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Russophobic politicians in the Kiev Radha [Parliament] squabble incessantly amongst themselves over how to deal with Ukraine’s pressing economic problems. However, one thing they can all agree upon is that the Donetsk and Lugansk regions will be brought back under Kiev’s rule by military means. However, as far as both the US and Russia are concerned this is a failed, contained war.
As World Cup fever mounts and millions of us become engrossed in this sporting spectacle spare a thought for the people of Donetsk and Lugansk, just across the border from Russia, who are caught in a living hell.